Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - October 20, 1971, Lethbridge, Alberta
___- WndnoiJoy, Oclolm JO, 1771 THE inHBPIDOS HERAID 33 No adequate legal safeguards at the moment Computers could pose serious threat to individual privacy By BOB DOUGLAS OTTAWA (CP) Faster, more efficient computers gob- ble up and distribute more in- formation about private citi- zens every year. There are no adequate legal safeguards now for the indi- vidual whose private life may be invaded. If the current trend contin- ues, computers could pose a serious threat to individual privacy, says Richard Gwyn, director of the social planning branch of the communications department. The government sees no im- mediate threat but has moved to prevent future problems by launching a study on comput- ers and privacy, says Com- munications Minister Robert Stanbury. The study is being carried out by the communications and justice departments and is expected to present its re- port to the government by Oct. 15. Mr. Gwyn is co-chair- man of the study with Rich- ard Olson, director of legal re- search for the justice depart- ment. FAST ANSWERS The problem of privacy ex- isted before the computer. But information is harder to find in conventional filing systems than in computers. Computers answer immediately. The growth of computer communications systems heightens the problem since information can be easily channelled to distant points. Telephone companies and other common carriers al- ready carry computer mes- sages across Canada. Members of the United States Congress began ques- tioning the power of comput- ers over individual lives in 19C6 when a national data bank was first proposed in Washington. Public concern about computers and privacy grew after the issue was raised. The most extensive study in the world is being carried out by the National Academy of Sciences in the U.S. but Brit- ain, West Germany, Sweden and Denmark are also exam- ining the problem. The federal investigating group has recruited consult- ants from universities and in- dustry to undertake 13 sepa- rate studies which will be wrapped up into the final re- port. SLOW U.S. REPLIES More than 50 per cent of the companies and govern- ment agencies approached by the task force have turned in replies to detailed question- naires. U.S. dala banks have been slower replying. Teams of lawyers and com- puter scientists have visited the 46 largest operators of computer information systems in Canada to dig out answers. Program cuts car accidents CHICAGO (CP) University. gram consisted of small group of Michigan researchers have I discussions weekly for seven come up with a driver-education program that is said to have cut auto accident rates among high school seniors by half. The Journal of the American Medical Association says the university researchers designed the pilot program as a "booster" for novice drivers. It was intended to build on driver education and accelerate the natural process of driving devel- opment. They chose 19 students for ex- perimental treatment and 114 for controls from a senior class that had completed road-experi- ence questionnaires. The initial phase of the pro- Firm committed to stand trial for ad fraud EDMONTON (CP) Alber- ta Giflwares Ltd. of Edmonton was committed to stand trial on four charges of misleading advertising. Eleven similar charges against Uie firm were dismiss- ed by provincial judge Carl Rolf. Alberta Giftwares is charged with making misleading state- ments between October, 1970 and April, 1971, in promoting the sale of bicycles in a cat- alogue. HOT PANTS THURSTON, England (CP) A "trouserless" man who out- raged villagers in a Suffolk community turned out to be an Australian mini shorts under a bushman's jacket. weeks. The workshops, con- ducted by a trained leader, provided an open, informal set- ting for discussion of actual road experiences, diagnosis ol components of accident situa- tions and understanding of deci- sion-making behind the wheel. POINT UP PERILS The workshops emphasized four areas: personal factors in driving; unexpected changes in the driving environment; cur- rent driving experience; anc personal involvement and self-a- wareness. Discussion was stim- ulated with "trigger one of three minutes long, focusing on potentially dangerous driving situations. To follow up and reinforce this treatment personal letters were sent to each of the work- shop graduates at six-month in- tervals. The letters, based on driving records from officia" state files, congratulated the young drivers for an accident- free record, or expressed mile concern following an accident. During Uie two years follow- ing the workshops the treatment group showed a continuous de- cline in accident rates. The con- trol group showed an increase in the second six-month perioc followed by a gradual decline For the entire two-year follow- up period, the accident rate pei hundred drivers for the treat- ment group was 21.3 comparec to 45.7 in Uie control group There were 13 accident repea- ters in the control group, none in the treatment group. Researchers concluded thai the pilot program succeeded in teaching young drivers to lean) from their mistakes during a potentially dangerous period ol driver development. A large- scale program is under way to verify pilot study results. SCENE RECORDED A Placard-carrying girl with a iweatshirt bearing the likeness of Paul Rose with the no- tation "Quebec patriot" takes part in a protest march in Montreal while a police cameraman on a balcony of the Nolre-Dcime hospital along the roulc taken by the march- in records Ilia iccnc. Mr. Gwyn says computer communications systems can seriously affect individual lives by pumping out inaccur- ate information to a large number of customers. An indi- vidual may have no way of knowing that this mistaken in- formation is on file. Personal facts submitted by an individual may be com- bined with other material for a purpose that was not origi- nally intended. Mr. Gwyn says this is particularly true in the U.S. where giant con- glomerates own a variety of companies in several different fields. But how far can personal privacy be extended? Is the public's right to know some- limes more important than the individual's right to pri- vacy? Mr. Gwyn says there is no clear answer to these ques- tions. LAX CONTROLS The investigating group is also grappling with ma prob- lem of data banks in other countries. Will data banks move to countries where con- trols are less sort of flag of convenience? The French have raised this issue but it applies to Canada as well. Much of Canada's in- formation already Hows south to U.S. dala banks. If the government decides comprehensive national regu- lation is needed, federal and provincial authorities will have to co-operate closely, Mr. Gwyn says. Complemen- tary legislation may IK re- quired at the federal and pro- vincial levels. Mr. Stanbury says another proposal is to set up a regis- ter listing what information leaves a data bank and where it goes. This would allow peo- ple to check inaccuracies and to find out where information about them has gone. The West German stale of Hesse has taken a different tack. It has named an om- budsman to look into abuses of privacy by computers. British computer experts are working on a professional code of etlu'cs that they hope will protect the individual. Perhaps the ultimate check against mistakes will be the individual himself. Arthur Sherwin of Toronto, past president of the Canadian Industrial Communications Assembly, suggested recently that people may eventually voluntarily feed information into data banks to ensure that it is correct. B u t government offidal.1 seem determined to act bcfors a crisis develops. Mr. Gwyn says it is harder to ban automobiles from rlouiitown city streets when the roads arc already clogged with cars than it is to act be- fore this happens. He suggests the same Ij true with computers. The in- dustry is still young and mea- sures to protect individual pri- vacy may be more effective now than later. Can an AM FM Digital Clock Radio with all these features cost as little as Believe it! Peoples huge purchasing power makes it possible. This Deltek Digital Clock Radio was an outstanding buy during our Mid-Winter and Spring Sales. Now, with a huge special purchase, we can offer an extra saving. This low-profile woodgrain beauty is designed to compliment any room in your the bedroom. You can set it to shut itself oft auto- matically an hour after you've gone to bed. And in the morning it will gently awake you to the sound of your favour- ite station-either AM or FM. Designed with trouble-free solid-state circuit, the Deltek Clock Radio brings in distant stations and local stations with full range sound reproduction, from high treble to resonant bass. Features an easy-to-read clock softly lit for night use, and a personal ear- phone so you may enjoy your favourite music at night, without disturbing others. See the Deltek Clock Radio at a Peoples store near you. The price alone speaks for itself. NO MONEY DOWN! Use the convenience of Peoples' Instant Credit to buy this value now! NO MONEY DOWN peoples PEOPLES INSTANT CREDIT lets you take your selection home now! CENTRE VILLAGE MALL 13th Street and 2nd Avenue 'A' North Open Daily 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday and Friday 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Telephone 327-1303.